Friday, July 10, 2009

Our Postage Stamp Garden

We live in a suburban townhome and we have a tiny yard. But I am determined to make the most of what we have. This is the first house we have owned and the first place I've ever had any bit of land we can call our own.

The first year we moved in, we ripped up the existing brick patio, and relaid it to a much smaller size, giving us about ten more square feet of grass. Our intention was to sod this bit that used to be patio, but since Thing One liked to dig in it so much, we just sort of let it turn into a digging hole. I'm so glad we decided to let the hole stay. He (and now Thing Two as well) loves it soooo much. They have spent endless hours playing with their trucks and digging tools.

The next year, We added a flower bed down the length of the yard on one side, and a small flower bed on the other side of the yard. We only planted a few herbs and some sunflowers that first year. We discovered that the sunflowers grew great, and all faced into our neighbors' yard. So the next year we planted them on the opposite side of the yard and were actually able to enjoy looking at the blooms! Thing One helped me plant a bunch of tulip, daffodil, iris and hyacinth bulbs. Bulbs are suck an easy gardening project for little ones. They bloom fairly well and have come back each year. It is such a joy to see those shoots come up when the spring starts thawing the ground. And I do love having vases full of flowers I grew myself!

We planted lots of flowering vines like Morning Glory and Clematis, to make the most of our vertical space. I stapled up a plastic net along the length of the fence that the vines cling to. I also planted a jasmine but it has yet to bloom. DH planted a rosebush but it only lasted one season.

I have planted a few vegetables here and there. Cherry tomatoes flourish, and I had a gargantuan bell pepper one year. My regular tomatoes never seem to do well and our okra and cantaloupes never made much to speak of. My herbs do well each year.

We put up a simple compost bin. It is four wooden stakes with a strong plastic net wrapped around it. We love watching the birds, and the occasional chipmunk, rifle through the compost. Sometimes seeds we throw in there germinate and we get mystery plants. This year's mystery plant is looking like a zucchini. This is what the zucchini looked like last week:
This is what it looks like today!

We eventually took on our front yard. It was a simple slope when we moved in, with an azalea bush and a dogwood tree, both in pretty sad shape. When the dogwood tree fell over and crushed what was left of the azalea tree, we knew it was time to decide how to proceed. We debated about what to do with it for at least a year.

We eventually decided to do three tiers. The top will hold a bench eventually, and was planted with ferns. The middle tier is the smallest and holds a few miscellaneous plants. Perhaps next year I will actually plan what I want to plant on this tier. The bottom tier is just grass so we have a bit of front yard space to sit upon.

The best thing about our yard is all the wildlife. We keep bird feeders full in the winter, sometimes right outside our front window, sometimes in the back yard at the patio door. The squirrels and chipmunks always find them, too. In the spring, we start seeing tiny bunnies in our clover in the back yard. They often eat our plants too, but they are so darned cute. Right now, a chipmunk is burrowing tunnels all underneath our patio, and the bricks are collapsing in random places all over. It's very aggravating!

Next year, I am considering putting in a small bed on the outside of our back fence. It's a sunny south facing spot that would be great for veggies or flowers. My husband usually does the hard labor of building the bed, so I'm not sure he's thrilled at the idea, but he sure does like fresh veggies and herbs, so I think I can sweet talk him into a little bit of sweat equity with promises of tomato bread salad and fresh pesto.

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